Book Reviews,  Dystopian,  LGBTQ+,  Short Stories,  Speculative Fiction

Book Review: Playing With a Full Deck

Playing With a Full Deck: Stories of Hope in Hard Times: An Aces High, Jokers Wild CollectionPlaying With a Full Deck: Stories of Hope in Hard Times: An Aces High, Jokers Wild Collection by O. E. Tearmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now and then, loyal readers of a favorite series are rewarded with gifts from the author. When the series happens to be one that focuses on found family, acceptance, love, diversity, celebrations (and silliness, rebellion, pranks, terrible movies… you get the idea) then those gifts mean even more. They’re a ‘thank you’ from the author, a reminder that books don’t just spontaneously appear on a shelf, they are someone’s labor of love. And when we love them back, a connection is made. It’s magic.

I’m waxing poetic, but I can’t help it. The “Aces High, Jokers Wild” series is dear to my heart. It’s my literary found family. The release of Playing With a Full Deck is special. It’s absolutely fine for a new reader to dive into, as it’s filled with short stories that focus on a variety of characters. But it’s even more rewarding for readers that have stuck around for the long haul. Some of the stories will be familiar as they were previously published as standalone novellas, separate from, but still connected to, the series of novels. I enjoyed re-reading those, and it’s nice to have them all in one handy edition.

But what really amped up the lovefest for me was the inclusion of seven short stories written by fans of the series. Yes you heard me right, fanfiction! These stories come from the heart, written about characters that have endeared themselves to readers strongly enough to come to life for them. They are well done, and manage to strike a balance between outrageous and respectful. (I need to mention that there’s some sexytimes in these.)

Of course, I’d rather you start with book one of the series and work your way through all of them before reading this collection, but I’d still be quite happy if you dove in here, too. I have a feeling that if you do, you’re going to want to grab the novels to see how it all began and where it’s all going.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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